Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Research Project #429988

Research Project: Systematics of Hemiptera and Related Groups: Plant Pests, Predators and Disease Vectors

Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

2020 Annual Report

ARS is interested in performing research to increase and enhance the understanding of the systematics of aphids, leafhoppers, plant bugs, thrips, and termites important to agriculture, ornamentals, and the environment. Our Project Plan has four main objectives: Objective 1: Determine species boundaries; recognize, describe, and illustrate new and adventive species; develop identification keys; define relationships among the respective groups; and investigate host use and specificity of leafhoppers, true bugs, aphids, scale insects, and related groups that are pests of, or beneficial, to U.S. agriculture. Objective 2: Develop accurate species concepts for aphids using a holistic approach based on morphological and molecular data. Objective 3: Compile, organize, and post on web electronic databases and images of primary types of important aphids, leafhoppers, termites, thrips, and true bugs. Objective 4: Provide expert identifications of specimens submitted by stakeholders worldwide and manage assigned portions of the U.S. National Insect Collection.

ARS will undertake the taxonomic research on agriculturally and economically important aphids, leafhoppers, plant bugs, termites, and thrips, using both morphological and molecular data to create species concepts and develop hypotheses about relationships. This information will be used to develop comprehensive revisions, including generic and species diagnoses and descriptions, illustrations of adults and diagnostic characters using light and electron microscopy, and dichotomous identification keys that will facilitate accurate identification. This information will be made available through publications, including hard-copy books, online pdf files, websites, and other media. Timely, accurate identifications of aphids, bugs, leafhoppers, termites, and thrips submitted by APHIS/PPQ, other state and Federal agencies, and a wide range of researchers will be provided. Large portions of the United States National Collection of Insects will be maintained and expanded.

Progress Report
This is the final report of project 8042-22000-290-00D, which terminates October 14, 2020. The new project plan is currently finishing up NP304 OSQR Review. The project involving a revision of the North America Ceratocapsini was substantially completed but due to its increased size, difficulty in locating types, and lack of technical support, the final manuscript will not be completed until sometime in the coming year. One large paper treating 8 genera and 48 species of Ceratocapsini, including 4 genera and 26 species new to science was published. The final ceratocapsine paper will include 10 genera and 90 species, including two new genera, one resurrected genus, over 11 new species, and 29 new combinations. For this research paper, the literature was reviewed, 10,800 measurements were made for 90 species, specimen distribution and host data were recorded, and all genitalic illustrations, and 15 color plates (a total of 180 images) depicting the adult male and female of each species are completed. This work will stabilize the classification of this large, diverse tribe; clarifiy the identity of numerous difficult-to-identify and taxonomically confused species; and provide for the first time comprehensive keys to identify all North American genera and species. In conjunction with this work, numerous other papers treating the classification, phylogeny, and systematics of plant bugs and related true bugs were published. The project involving the description of treehopper nymphs has so far resulted in four publications, one additional submitted paper, and all additional parts completed in draft form. Descriptions and notes on leafhoppers, treehoppers, and planthoppers in general have resulted in four publications, including revised taxonomic placements, new synonymies, and new species. The project involving the revision of the aphid genus Rhopalosiphum was completed successfully and resulted in the publication of two impactful publications and several related oral and poster presentations. The concept of the genus has now been stabilized through new species descriptions, species synonymies, and classification in regard to species relatedness. In lieu of molecular techniques, statistical analyses were tested and used to determine species relationships. As demonstrated, linear discriminant analyses can be used to test the validity of synonymizations when DNA is unavailable and provides a new method to examine and use historic, microscope slide-mounted specimens. In collaboration with Texas A & M, the worldwide literature search of the Neuropterida/ Sternorrhyncha (predator/prey) resulted in more than 3000 citations of which over 1600 citations (together with 4700 unique author) were imported into the Bibliography of the Neuropterida (BotN) database. For papers that contain useful predator/prey information, new electronic document (EDoc) records are created in the BotN database, and the PDFs are renamed in a standard format and archived for eventual display in the online BotN, and for subsequent predator/prey data capture. Relative to other literature-review projects, this step is a distinguishing feature of our online project, as most of the data that we will eventually capture will be linked to an actual PDF for review/verification. While we have archived more than 600-700 PDFs for the project, it has not gone live via the web. The project involving phylogenetics and revisionary systematics of armored scale insects was completed successfully and resulted in the publication of two impactful articles and related oral presentations. The subfamily and tribal classifications have now been stabilized through species synonomizations and phylogenetically informed revisions. An NSF-funded project to estimate phylogeny of all scale insect families using ultraconserved elements (UCEs) has progressed. This project uses cutting-edge phylogenomics techniques to reconstruct the phylogeny of scale insects. It now includes an additional component studying metagenomics of scale insect gut microbiomes. New collections were added to the project from a research expedition to the Peruvian Amazon. Several new species of root mealybugs have been discovered and are currently being described as a result of this work. Farm Bill funding was awarded to support continuing research into the Roseau cane scale (RCS), its population genetics and biocontrol. A multi-national collaboration is underway to track the source population of RCS and determine appropriate measures for controlling invasive populations in Louisiana and Texas. A student intern was trained through the ORISE program as a result of this work, preparing approximately 200 specimens for inclusion in the population genetics study and for deposition into the National Coccomorpha Collection. Specimens of RCS were submitted to the ARS i5K initiative for complete genomic sequencing and annotation. Two manuscripts have been prepared, describing new species of armored scales in Argentina and Panama, and providing identification keys to the aspidiotine armored scale species present in each country. A new mid-Cretaceous fossil scale insect genus and species were described and submitted for publication. Total identifications for Hemiptera from 1 May 2015 - 20 May 2020: 16,680. Breakdown: For Heteroptera, 4,916 identifications (2,614 urgent and 2,302 prompt, routine, and IDA identifications); for Auchenorrhyncha, 4,353 identifications (2,196 urgent and 2,157 prompt, routine, and IDA identifications) of Auchenorrhyncha; and for Sternorrhyncha, 3,411 identifications (1,496 urgent and 1,915 prompt, routine, and IDA identifications).

1. Systematics and phylogeny of true bug plant pests and predators. With more than 45,000 species in the world, true bugs represent one of the most diverse and economically important groups of insects. In a collection of impactful research articles on the taxonomy and relationships of phytophagous and predatory true bugs (Heteroptera) were studied, including four large revisionary studies: one treating a predatory plant bug genus-group containing eight genera, four of which are new to science, and 48 species, 26 of which are described as new; another on a predatory plant bug genus comprising 24 species, including five new to science, all of which are specialized egg predators used in the biological control programs, such as the classical control of the sugarcane delphacid in Hawaii. This extensive new information on the classification, phylogenetic relationships, distribution, host plants, and identification of hundreds of true bugs, many of which are of major agricultural importance, have great potential in biocontrol programs.

2. A world revision of armored scale insect classification. Armored scales are among the most invasive insects in the world, responsible for billions of dollars in agricultural damage annually. The United States instituted its first Plant Quarantine Act in 1905 following the introduction of an armored scale, the San Jose scale, which devastated western agriculture at the turn of the century. Today, 40 percent of armored scale species in the United States are introduced; many are considered to be major pests of crops and ornamentals. ARS scientists and collaborators conducted a comprehensive study on relationships of the world fauna and established a stable classification system, providing a foundation for identifying pests of agricultural concern and understanding their biology and ecology. This work has a downstream impact on the ability of scientists, biocontrol workers, extension agents, and regulatory agencies to monitor and control species introductions. Recent achievements resulted in a reclassification of subfamilies and tribes and provided the groundwork necessary for revising the classifications of genera.

Review Publications
Clark, A., Haimowitz, L., Henry, T.J. 2019. Synonymy of the New World anthocorid genus Ameroscolopa Carpintero and Dellapé with Scoloposcelis Fieber (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Anthocoridae: Lyctocorinae: Scolopini). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 121(3):372-381.
Dellape, P.M., Henry, T.J. 2020. A new genus and species of Orsillinae (Heteroptera: Lygaeoidea: Lygaeidae) from Argentina. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 121(1):55-62.
Figueroa-Castro, P., Lopez-Martinez, V., Henry, T.J., Brailovsky, H., Hernandez-Ruiz, A. 2019. First report of Caulotops distanti Reuter (Hemiptera: Miridae: Bryocorinae) on two species of mezcal maguey (Asparagaceae) in Guerrero, Mexico. Florida Entomologist. 102(3):642-644.
He, Z., Zhang, Y., Mckamey, S.H., Zahniser, J.N. 2019. The Chinese Hecalina (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae: Deltocephalinae: Hecalini) with descriptions of a new genus and seven new species. Zootaxa. 4679(2):257-285.
Henry, T.J., Wall, M. 2019. Bajacanthus immaculatus: A new hoplinine genus and species of stilt bug (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Berytidae) from Baja California Sur, Mexico, with a revised key to the genera of the tribe. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 121(4):616-624.
Henry, T.J., Menard, K. 2020. Revision and phylogeny of the eccritotarsine plant bug genus Caulotops Bergroth, with descriptions of four new genera and 12 new species (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Miridae: Bryocorinae). Zootaxa. 4772(2):201-252.
Henry, T.J., Halbert, S.E., Garcia, O., Anto, J. 2019. A new species of the plant bug genus Falconia Distant (Heteroptera: Miridae: Orthotylinae) from Mexico and the United States and the first U.S. record of F. maculipennis Maldonado in Florida. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 121(2):178-188.
Melo, M.C., Henry, T.J. 2019. Revision of the New World scentless plant bug genus Niesthrea Spinola (Heteroptera: Rhopalidae: Rhopalinae: Niesthreini), with descriptions of six new species and a key to species. Insect Systematics and Diversity. 3(5):1-36.
Mckamey, S.H. 2019. New distribution records for two rare Neotropical treehopper species (Hemiptera: Membracidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 121(4):741.
Mckamey, S.H. 2020. Description of a new, unusual species of Diestostemma Amyot & Serville (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) from Ecuador. ZooKeys. 908:31-37.
Mckamey, S.H., Sullivan-Beckers, L. 2019. Hebetica sylviae, n. sp. (Hemiptera: Membracidae: Darninae) discovered in Kentucky wasp nests, with redefinitions of Hebetica Stål and Stictopelta Stål, and a key to species of Hebetica. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 121(3):449-460.
Nomark, B.B., Okusu, A., Morse, G.E., Peterson, D.A., Itioka, T., Schneider, S.A. 2019. Phylogeny and classification of armored scale insects (Hemiptera: Coccomorpha: Diaspididae). Zootaxa. 4616:1-98.
Schneider, S.A. 2019. A key to the flat grass scale genus Nipponaclerda (Hemiptera, Coccomorpha, Aclerdidae. ZooKeys. 862:81-87.
Schneider, S.A., Fizdale, M.A., Normark, B.B. 2019. An online interactive identification key to common pest species in Aspidiotini (Hemiptera, Coccomorpha, Diaspididae), version 1.0. ZooKeys. 867:87-96.
Skvarla,, M.J., Owen, C.L., Miller, G.L. 2020. Reexamination of Rhopalosiphum (Hemiptera: Aphididae) using linear discriminant analysis to determine the validity of synonymized species, with some new synonymies and distribution data. Biodiversity Data Journal. 8(e49102.).